Franchising Focus: BurgerFi CEO talks growth, labor, technology

| by Cherryh Cansler
Franchising Focus: BurgerFi CEO talks growth, labor, technology

With seats made from recycled soda bottles and its use of energy-efficient LED lighting and giant energy-saving fans, it's clear that Florida-based BurgerFi is dedicated to protecting the environment. It's even more passionate about burgers and customer service, however, which is why the brand is thriving, CEO Corey Winograd said in an interview with FastCasual.

The chain, which will celebrate its 100th opening this month, increased comp sales by 6.7 percent in Q1 in its corporate-owned units. It's also seeing steady growth throughout its 85 franchised locations, which include units in Alaska, Kuwait and Mexico.

"It's a combination of greater brand awareness, innovative customer technology, marketing and operational enhancements which have improved order accuracy and ticket times resulting in higher visit frequency by both new and returning customers,"  Winograd told FastCasual. He also discussed his plans for the brand and how he maintains success. Below is the rest of the interview.

Q. How do you keep labor costs manageable without harming the customer experience?  

A. Placing our team members in the right places at the right times allows us to maximize throughput, which in turn elevates the guest experience to the point of exceeding expectations.

By focusing on the top line revenue, we create the sales growth needed to keep our labor percentages at a benchmark.  We make proactive decisions that place an emphasis on the delicate balance needed to deliver both sales and service expectations without sacrificing one for the other.

Q. What types of technology do you use to ensure that the customer experience meets customer standards? 

A. We use a highly advanced customer experience management tool. The technology aggregates in real time customer reviews across all major social media channels. This allows us to achieve 100 percent guest engagement and ensures the customer experience meets our strict brand standards.

We also maintain dashboards with interactive technology for each of our restaurants.  

Q. Have you tested delivery — third party or in-store?  

A. Along with online and mobile ordering, we are testing delivery as an additional revenue opportunity for BurgerFi.  We currently have around 35 locations testing third-party delivery.

Q Do you have kiosks in all your units or just a few? 

A. We are testing kiosks in several locations. One of our missions is to ensure 100 percent order accuracy. Innovations like the kiosk will help get us there.

Q. What do you look for in a franchisee? What are the investment requirements?  

A. BurgerFi partners with experienced and well-capitalized, multi-unit restaurant operators, who possess both the focused commitment and infrastructure capability to successfully operate our concept. These franchisees reflect our strategic initiative to surround ourselves with successful business operators who understand and are passionate about the restaurant industry.

Q. What is your growth plan? 

A. In five short years, the efforts of our dedicated corporate team and amazing franchisees have propelled BurgerFi from a regional brand to a national industry leader, and we look forward to accelerating this momentum. This year we will open a total of approximately 25 new restaurants, primarily through franchise development. With global demand and enormous opportunity for expansion, we think BurgerFi is poised for another year of rapid growth.

Q. What is the single most important way that you market BurgerFI? 

A.Great food and service made known by our loyal fans through our social media channels. 

Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Digital Signage, Operations Management

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for

wwwView Cherryh Cansler's profile on LinkedIn

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